Enmore Alpha & Omega 1988/1990, casks 40, 42 and 55, 51.6% – Jack Tar

Enmore Distillery in Guyana is an interesting one. With a quite well known brand in El Dorado, they also produce some different distillates, from the range of their setups.

With that I mean that they don’t have a single distilling setup, but three different ones. There is a French Savalle still, with four metal columns, there is a double wooden pot still and there is an EHP Wooden Coffey still. That last one is also made of wood, and is the last working wooden coffey still in the world.

The wooden Coffey still. Image from El Dorado’s Instagram

This rum came from that wooden coffey still and that’s a rarity indeed! Especially at this age. The three casks were emptied in 2021, which makes this a 30 year old distillate if we only look at the youngest contents.

Out of these three casks came 503 bottles, of which 101 are bottled with the Alpha label, 102 are bottled with the Omega label, and the rest was bottled as Jack Tar assets. I guess that means an even more private labels for Jack Tar intimates.

Image from Jack Tar

Let’s see what this € 370 bottle of rum brings us!

The range of aromas coming from the glass is astounding. There’s sugarcane with a hint of treacle. There’s grass, that almost touches on vinegar. After a minute there’s salted caramel with oak, and an almost mezcal-like whiff of smoke.

The palate does the same trick, on a backdrop of chilli pepper and succulents. Maybe cactus and agave behind caramel and sugarcane? The 30-odd years in oak bring a fair dryness on top of the spicy heat. There’s a bit more fruit with overripe peaches, star fruit and apricot.

The finish veers off a little bit with a lit more caramel and burnt sugar. Burnt toast and a hot car engine too. Very dark treacle, oak and molasses.

This is a rather activating rum. As in, apart from bitterness, all flavor-groups are represented and every taste bud is triggered. Even though it’s on the sweet side of things, which is fairly common for El Dorado’s products, there is so much going on that it’s a drink you keep coming back to!

At € 370 you get to the rather hard discussion about whether this is expensive or not. Of course, it’s a lot of money, but you’re getting a top shelf rum too, at a high age. I guess that’s the difference between ‘expensive’ and ‘a lot of money’…



Available at ExcellenceRhum for € 370. Or for € 700 if you want both the Alpha and Omega labels from Jack Tar

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Teeling 15, 2006-2022, Amburana Hardwood Cask 6210, 57.8% – OB for The Duchess

Image from UsefulTropicalPlants

When this came out the thing I first did was look up what the rulings and regulations for Irish Whiskey are. Amburana is, as you might have guessed, not oak. It’s a Brazilian kind of hardwood not often used for maturing any type of spirit. In Scotland this would immediately disqualify the contents of being whisky, but in Ireland, as it turns out, there is no such regulation.

It’s no surprise the whisk(e)y industry generally sticks to oak, since it’s one of the hardwoods that tends to not leak. Amburana is different and casks have to be handled very carefully. As far as I know this is only the second cask of Amburana wood from Teeling, with the first being a distillery exclusive.

So, whiskey after all! And with a spirit like Teeling, which is generally of very high quality, this was an interesting one to dive in to! A bottle share was created, some samples were sold. But even within my bottle-share club of fellow whisky nerds, not too many people were enthralled by what a different type of wood maturation could bring to bear.

Initially this worried me, but after having tried the liquid, I’m actually quite glad to be stuck with some more of it. Why? Just read on!

Image by Best of Wines

Initially it starts off with that typical Irish Whiskey candy-like sweetness. Wine gums and peardrops and such. But quickly therafter there’s a veritable mountain of marzipan and dark wood. Almond flour, tonka beans, a whiff of mocha too.

Quite some peppery heat, with loads of marzipan and tonka beans. Some dried fruits including a bitter tinge from the fruit stones. A spiced cake like sweetness, almond flour and freshly ground espresso.

The finish is very consistent with the palate. Slightly more mellow, and long. After a few minutes the tonka beans and marzipan start waning, and more typical woody notes come through.

It’s not very uncommon to get notes of marzipan in whiskey. In this case there was a boatload of it, and that’s something new. The notes of tonka bean, though, those pulled me right in. It’s a very unique whiskey, and I can imagine the strangeness taking some time to get used to, but I absolutely love it.

Some real innovation that is not solely based on casks being used for a different kind of wine than normal, or a more efficient type of barley at the cost of depth of flavor. I highly recommend getting a bottle and getting stuck in!

As with the Ailsa Bay from a little while ago, I am very much considering to get a second one of this, for later.

Let’s hope quality booze like this paves the way for more innovative approaches in the future!


With The Duchess being a brand by Best of Wines, it’s available there for € 150

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Vallein Tercinier ‘Rencontre’ 60yo, 1962, Single Dame Jeanne, 42.6% – OB for Jack Tar & Lux Coin

So, apart from this being a ridiculously old Cognac, there’s more to the story.

The guys that run Jack Tar bought a bottle of Cognac in auction a few years ago, a bottle that was about 260 years old. It was a Gautier from 1762, to be exact. They tried it and thought found it amazing. After this they set out to find another great Cognac because they had an idea for this.

After trying several 1962’s, as they wanted it to be 60 years old, 200 years younger than the Gautier, they settled on this Vallein Tercinier from a Dame Jeanne. That’s a glass flask containing 70 liters, so exactly 100 bottles of ridiculously old Cognac. To that they added (some of) what was left of that 200 year old Cognac so they could share this liquid history with more people.

Of course, as they indicated as well, these few drops won’t change the other 70 liters by any means, at least not significantly. I guess it’s more about the concept of drinking something that was made almost 50 years before Charles Darwin was born.

A little while ago I got a sample of this Vallein Tercinier and gave it a go recently. Of course, I’m not a Cognac guru, but I have found I rather love this new wave of Cognacs that have started showing up the last couple of years.

Somehow, I am getting something I can only describe as ‘smooth oak’. Copper, orange, tangerine, boiled grapes. Madeleines, and lemon drizzle cake.

More intense than I though, while also tasting so very old. Some oak, but not a lot. Dried tangerines, corky wood mulch, copper polish too.

The finish is very consistent, with a bit more dryness and a bit more orange sweetness. Old oak, old citrus fruits, lemon drizzle cake.

For something this old, it’s surprisingly fresh. The citrus notes are rather complex and quite lovely indeed. In short, this is utterly amazing stuff. There is so much to discover and with it being so old, but partially ‘aged’ in glass, it’s a very different thing compared to whisky. I guess that makes me a little unfamiliar to the flavors, but still. There is so much going on, as I said before.

Utterly amazing stuff!


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Tobermory 21, Oloroso Finish, 46.3%

The second whisky from the autumn tasting, which seems to be well timed for a review since it’s about 30 degrees out here, is this Tobermory. A bottling that’s been available for a couple of years by now, and once again, a sherry finish.

Tobermory is the unpeated older brother to Ledaig, from the town of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. The distillery has been around for over 200 years, but it’s not a huge brand by any measure. The whisky is out there but is generally not announced with much fanfare. Ledaig is a bit different, since that’s a rather Islay-styled peated whisky, and those are insanely popular now.

Image from Whiskybase

Let’s find out whether their lack of reputation is justified.

There’s a hint of sulfur on the nose, with some dark dried fruits like plums and dates. Oak and chocolate chip cookies too. Furniture wax, hot chocolate, cherry and cassis.

The palate is rather dry with tree bark, cocoa shells, dates and dried plums. I think I’m getting European oak too with walnut and espresso, and a hint of chilli pepper.

The finish is classical and dusty with dried fruits. I’m getting a note of graphite and cedar too, so pencil shavings. The whiff of sulfur is back again too, and it’s not an overly long finish.

This is a bit of a difficult one. There are quite some likeable notes, but none of them really jump out. It’s all a bit timid, and I’m thinking it is a little bit too timid. Then again, the cassis and cocoa, with the pencil shavings is really interesting, but the note of sulfur doesn’t help. A lot of pros and cons, with this one.


Available for wildly varying prices in The Netherlands.

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Royal Brackla 18, Palo Cortado Finish, 46%

This whisky was part of De Whiskykoning’s Autumn tasting from last year. In the middle of all the lockdowns there were sample packs instead of physical tastings with a bit of Youtube guidance. Good fun, although a bit less interactive than it would have been in person.

Still, you get to go to a shop and support them a wee bit, and you get some nice whiskies in returns. I like the concept!

Image from Whiskybase

This version of Royal Brackla was finished in Palo Cortado sherry casks and has been on the market since 2020. At 18 years old, and clocking in at about € 115 it’s not too expensive, and it uses a slightly more interesting cask than the regular Oloroso ones. Just to change things up a little bit.

It’s quite old fashioned with lots of barley on the nose, and some oak too. Sand biscuits, vanilla and a bit of black pepper after a minute or two. Pear, mango and apple sauce follow.

The palate brings a bit more pepper than the nose did. It’s also slightly more dry. Still quite some vanilla with pear and apple sauce. Oak, slightly acidic not unlike candied lemon slices. A touch of dry sherry with some tropical fruit too.

The finish brings more oak and is slightly more dry than the palate was. Less peppery, though, and more focused on the (still light) notes of sherry. A whiff of orange like bitterness, but also barley and apple cores.

I guess the Palo Cortado finish was a very short one, or they didn’t use first fill casks for it. There is almost no sherry to be found, and the more dominant flavors are still that of good old fashioned bourbon casks.

Having said that, the whisky is nice enough, although it’s not one to rock your world either.


Available at De Whiskykoning for € 115

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2 Starwards from ‘private’ casks

Private between quotation marks because even though one of them is a real private cask, the other one is a bottling done for ‘The Netherlands’. While that is fairly limited in availability, it’s not really private.

Anyway, Starward Distillery, from Melbourne, Australia. They’ve been around for almost two decades, being founded in 2004. But it’s not until 2020-ish that availability has spread out as much as it has. Currently, it seems to be quite readily available in Europe. Apart from the casks reviewed in this post, there’s already a new bottling for The Netherlands available.

As with many of these newer distilleries, the price is a bit of an issue. These distilleries have yet to prove themselves in terms of quality and after that, consistency, and the more sought-after editions already come in at € 100.

Add to that the fact that whiskies from warmer climates also tend to clock in at very young ages and don’t get older over the years (as in, the Angel’s Share is so high they can’t age for much longer than a couple of years).

So, back to the positive, then.

I’m not sure how Starward has managed to spin it, but they seem to be avoiding the negative connotations of whiskies matured in wine casks. Generally, these are regarded with some disdain from whisky geeks (like me) and avoided. Starward seems to be doing fine. Maybe because they are almost exclusively available from wine casks, and seem to be scoring well!

Apart from that, I find it just cool that a distillery from the other end of the world, from a country that is only now getting a foothold in the world of whisky, is doing so well. So, let’s dive in!

Starward 4, 2016-2021, French Oak and Charred Red Wine Cask 10611, 56.2% – OB for The Netherlands

Image from Whiskybase

It smells like a pretty potent combination of oak and red wine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely whisky, and it actually combines rather well with the wine cask. Rancio and strawberries, some fresh rosemary too. Charcoal, and some treacly sweetness too.

A rather sweet palate, with a bit of bite of black pepper. Quite some oak, red fruits and dark grapes. Rancio, meaty red wine, barbecue charcoal.

The finish is slightly more velvety than the palate, but isn’t without it’s dryness too. Red fruits, charcoal, oak, rancio, rich red wine.

This is a pretty solid dram. Surprisingly so for a whisky that’s just four years old and finished in a wine cask. I’m positively surprised. Not in a way that I’ll be running to the shops for a second bottle, but I’ll gladly drink the rest of mine!


Available in The Netherlands for € 66

Starward 5, 2016-2021, Apera Cask 1855, 59.3% – OB for Whivie.be & The Bonding Dram

Image from Whiskybase

A bit of background information on the cask used. Apera is an Australian fortified wine not unlike sherry. Of course, since they’re not from the area surrounding Jerez in Spain, they can’t call it sherry and Australians had to come up with something else. Apera is that something else.

Oak at first, but there’s quickly some sherry-like notes of yeast and dried fruits with a little bitter edge to it. Plums, with a bit of a yeasty funkiness. Chestnuts, somehow, the dusty skins of fresh plums. Walnuts too, as said, there is some funkiness to be had.

It packs quite a punch at almost 60% ABV, but there’s enough flavor to compete. It’s quite hot, peppery, but that’s mostly because of the alcohol. The nutty aromas carry on onto the palate too. Quite dry, but there’s a bit of sweetness too, without being too much. Not unlike dried fruits like plums and dates.

On the finish the sweetness is rather diminshed compared to before. It’s full on funky sherry notes, with lots of walnuts, cherry stones, almond flour. Quite long.

The guys who picked the cask gave this 90 points. Of course, when it’s one’s own cask that is reviewed, I take such a review with a grain of salt. In this case, they’re not far off compared to my findings. 90 is still a bit much, but it certainly is a good whisky! I’m actually quite intrigued by how Apera would hold up against actual sherry, but that’s for another time.

The whisky is quite complex and packs a punch. However, it’s not overpowered by the alcohol and brings a lot of flavors. This is even more true if you consider that this is only five years old!


Available for € 90 at The Bonding Dram

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Earlskine – Your Whisky Destination

In northern Germany, in Oldenburg there is a shop called ‘Whisky Erlebnis‘. They focus their inventory towards the luxurious side of things with all kinds of whiskies, gin, rum, cigars and more. They’re fairly new to the world of whisky, only coming into existence in 2018.

They’ve not been sitting still since and apart from their shop, which focuses on online sales mostly, there currently also is a brand new independent bottler called ‘Earlskine – Your Whisky Destination’. The brand came into existence about a year ago and have now just released their first three single cask bottlings!

I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of each and thought it high time to write some reviews to these samples!

Ledaig 9, 2010-2020, Sherry Cask, 59.2% – Earlskine

Image from Whiskybase

There is a lot of smoke, with a massive whiff of diesel. Grass, hay, fresh white oak. A beach bonfire with lots of coastal salinity.

The palate is not too hot, but it’s not the first dram either. There’s a lot of alcohol still! Lots of smoke and still quite diesel-y. Grass, marram grass, hay, charred wood, brine.

The finish starts with an huge afterburner before it gets a bit more mellow. There still is quite a bit of lingering heat, but after a minute there’s a lovely smokiness left. Some sweetness comes up then too, a bit of vanilla, and pastry cream.

It’s not as clean as some other Ledaigs from around the same vintage, but it’s not as dirty as the distillery got to be known for a decade or so ago. I think they hit the sweet spot between a true coastal, peated whisky and some other stranger notes to keep things interesting!


Bunnahabhain 11, 2009-2020, Sherry Cask, 50.2% – Earlskine

Image from Whiskybase

Very sweet with heaps of dates and plums, treacle and a hint of coffee. There’s a whiff of aniseed, hay and a minor note of oak behind all the sweetness.

The palate continues down the same alley, but brings a bit more dryness and is surprisingly hot for a dram at 50.2%. Chilli peppers and oak shavings, straw. Still there are lots of dates and plums for sweetness. Honey and chocolate covered raisins.

The sweetness is back in the spotlight, although the peppery heat lingers a bit too. Rather honeyed with dried fruits like dates and plums again.

Very good, and even though it’s very sweet (generally not too much to my liking). A quality Bunnahabhain, but I guess that’s what we know the distillery for nowadays.


BenRiach ‘The Spider’ 21, 1999-2021, Port Cask Finish, 52.9% – Earlskine

Image from Whisky Erlebnis

I would have sworn this was a sherry cask instead of a port finish. The typical notes of jammy red fruits and old mulchy wood didn’t really pop up. Keep that in mind when reading the tasting notes…

Dried fruit with apricots, plums, peaches. There are hints of old oak, some vanilla and dried apple. A hint of straw, and later on the oak and gentle sherry notes get deeper. Rather autumnal.

The sherry is present on the palate too, but is far more spicy than it was on the nose. Warming, with some definite peppery heat, and some oak sawdust dryness. There’s dried fruit and barley. Dried apple and warm hay. Vanilla, dried leaves, and slightly funky sherry too.

The finish keeps the middle between the nose and the palate. The sweetness is a bit more prominent than on the palate, but not as much as it was on the nose. Funky, some sweet orange like notes, autumn leaves, straw. The works.

This is very delicious. There is a lot happening, although it’s not utterly unique. This must have been a good cask indeed! I love that I found that note of orange in the finish. That makes it more interesting than ‘just dried fruit’.

After knowing this was finished in a port cask I’m curious to know what the whisky matured in before, but it’s not likely to be a sherry cask. Anyway, it does show quite a lot of those dried fruit notes, and not the strawberry jam I would normally expect from a port cask. Very interesting, but either way, the whisky is very good.

The balance between warmth, woody notes of vanilla, spirity notes of straw and ‘previous-contents-of-the-cask-notes’ of dried fruits is exactly right. A very good dram indeed!


All three of these whiskies are still available in Germany, with approximate prices as below:

After having tasted these three whiskies, I’m very curious to see where the brand will go from here! I think they’re off to a really good start with three very good whiskies. Especially the BenRiach is a nice one, although I’m still a bit surprised by the cask type used, and the flavors that resulted in.

Thanks for the samples Christian and Andreas!

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Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, 2 Bunnahabhains by Boogieman Import

Apart from the story of Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, there is some background to be given to the whiskies here.

In this case, the whiskies are two very different sides to the same coin, sort of. Both are Bunnahabhains, of almost the same age, a not too varying ABV, drawn from similar casks, and yet there are some huge differences! One of them has a nicely brown hue to it that you would expect from a Sherry butt, but the other one has barely picked up any color from the cask.

The other main difference, as with many Bunnahabhains, is that one is peated and the other one is not. While that makes quite a difference in taste and aroma, it shouldn’t affect the color at all.

Both these whiskies are available from Boogieman Import, which means they’re sold through Passie for Whisky, since that is more or less the same company.

Bunnahabhain 12, 2009-2021, Dr. Jeckyll, 50.7% – Boogieman Import

Image from Passie voor Whisky

Lots of dried fruit, on a very crisp, “cold mountain morning” backdrop. Leather and peaches, raisins and a whiff of oak. Bandaids too, with a bit of iodine.

The cold morning crispness turns a little bit watery on the arrival, but is followed quickly by quite a lot of dry oak, peaches and apricots. There some peppery heat too, but not too much.

The finish turns the peppery heat more towards a woody warmth. Not too much sweetness, and more leathery notes too.

Quite an interesting take on Bunnahabhain. It’s quite close to the core range, which is not something we get to see often from independent bottlers. It does have everything amped up, though. So, core range XL or something…

It’s nice that there is a bit of Islay to it through the scent of bandaids, and that crispness was nice too!


Bunnahabhain 11, 2010-2021, Mr. Hyde, 52.3% – Boogieman

Image from Passie voor Whisky

If you told me this was heavily peated newmake, I’d believe you. Although, there is a bit more depth. Not woody, and pale as the moon, but the typical newmake cloying alcohol sweetness is not there. What is there is massive heaps of peat and smoke. Slightly kippery.

Quite sharp with unmellowed alcohol and smoke. Peated turpentine, with black pepper and a touch of oak. Very weird. There is some fruity sweetness in the background though. Slightly tropical.

The finish is very consistent with the palate, but maybe even more smoky. Later on it turns quite mezcal-like!

Talking about this being a strange one. It’s very interesting but a bit of a one-trick pony. It reminded me of a sample of Lagavulin I got at the distillery in 2010, which came from a fourth-fill cask and the cask had therefore barely had any effect on the whisky. In this case, I bet something similar happened, because this is as close to aged new make (a contradiction, I know) as you can get.

Some mellowing has happened, but other than that there’s barely any cask influence at all. So again, very interesting, but also quite a gimmicky whisky, if you ask me.


Having reviewed these two whiskies, I can confidently say that Boogieman has gone for a rather unique approach here! Two things with rather comparable parameters (except for only one being peated) can come out so very differently. Kudos, because it’s a gutsy move!

Unfortunately, we can’t really close this review without mentioning the elephant in the room in regards to these kinds of bottlings. A little foot note has to be made: Boogieman is one of many who is trying to cope with this issue, since Islay whisky is being ridiculously popular. The price of these two bottles is € 150. Each.

This is currently the case with all Bunnahabhains, Laphroaigs, Bruichladdichs, Kilchomans and Bowmores. Lagavulin and Ardbeg are way more expensive still, and the only one lagging a little bit behind (for now) is Caol Ila.

We’re getting to the point that I understand the price point if you’re really in the market to buy Islay whisky. As in, if you are specifically looking for a bottling from the Queen of the Hebrides, you whill have to be okay with prices like that. However, I often don’t think the price is justified in terms of the whisky you’re actually getting, compared to other options from Scotland.

To me, the connection between price and enjoyment is a bit lost.

Thanks to Passie voor Whisky for the samples! The bottles are available here and here, or combined with a bit of discount.

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Glenlivet 25, 1995-2020, American Oak Barrel 9480, 55.3% – OB for Jack Tar

‘OB for Jack Tar’ doesn’t really cover it, since it’s indeed an OB, but selected by La Maison du Whisky, under private label for Jack Tar, for the Chinese market. That doesn’t really fit the title, though.

Anyway. Glenlivet is one of those distilleries whose regular output generally doesn’t really appeal to me. Back in the day the Nadurra bottlings were pretty amazing, when they just started with them, but other than that I can’t remember ever being swayed by any of them.

However, there are quite a few private casks and independent bottlings out there that are simply amazing! I remember some entry level ones by Ultimate that punched well above their weight, as well as a few random older bottlings that were just stunning!

Image from Jack Tar Holding

This one, from an age perspective, sits in the middle. It isn’t overly aged like some are, but it’s not a youngster either. I guess that means it should be around the sweet spot between the cask taking over and the spirit having had enough time to mellow, and integrate and marry with the oak. Let’s find out!

Even though it’s still quite strong, it’s very timid. Quite warm, and old fashioned. A hint of barley, and slightly acidic oak. Apple peels, ferns, a whiff of crumble pastry too.

The ABV is more noticeable on the palate. Quite strong, with white pepper, old apple, lots of oak. Grape seeds and pears, green orchard fruits. It’s quite dry, and clean.

The finish is less dry, and more fruity. Apples, pears, caramboles, grape seeds. Also oak, a whiff of barley and some ferns.

As I hoped, this is a stunning whisky. Knowing which bottler it comes from sets the bar quite high, since this is fully aimed at the luxury market (clocking in at € 1000 per bottle, according to Whiskybase, I’m not sure if this is retail or secondary).

The whisky is still quite strong, but also brings the flavors that generally start showing more when it mellows over the years. I love the fruity notes, especially combined with some foresty flavors like ferns and clean oak.

A great cask!


Thanks to Jack Tar Holding for supplying the sample!

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Caol Ila 10, 2011-2022, Sherry Hogshead 5846, 57.5% – WhiskyNerds

It’s been a while but it is time for another WhiskyNerds bottling. A cask selected by Bram and Floris for the Dutch market, and in that market only selected retailers. Mostly, that boils down to the shops that the Nerds have a good relationship with.

As with many of this kind of bottling, it has sold out already. I believe it was released about two or three weeks ago, so it wasn’t lightning fast but you shouldn’t have taken too much time pondering your purchase either.

This is quite contradictory to their previous Caol Ila bottling, which was a tremendous whisky, although it also was tremendously expensive. Even after three years that’s still sitting on shelves in shops below it’s original recommended retail price.

Also, as if they’re compensating, even though it went for € 100 per bottle, that is pretty affordable for a 10 year old Islay single cask whisky. Many of these sit closer to € 150 nowadays, although Caol Ila is quite available and therefore the cheaper of the brands.

Image from Whiskybase

Anyway, a sherry hogshead. A decade old. A high ABV. Let’s go!

Rather light on the smoke, but huge notes of caramel apple, treacle, raisins. There’s a hint of bacon and barbecue later on. Pastry cream too.

The palate packs more punch than the nose. The sweeter sherry notes are largely gone, but there’s a lot more peppery heat, more oak, more dryness. Still rather light on the typical smoke and engine grease.

The finish brings a slightly sweet ashy note, with a lot of barbecue-y notes, bacon, soot, greasy and all.

It’s quite noticeable that this is an American oak cask used for sherry. You get the sherry notes on one end, and the American oak notes on the other end. The heavier, darker European oak that is so rare nowadays isn’t there.

Having said that, this is a nice combination of flaovrs. The dryness is something I like (as you might know from reading things here…). It’s quite typical of Caol Ila to be a bit on the creamy side, and the barbecue and soot notes are not unfamiliar either. All in all, a rather lovely whisky, well worth the initial asking price!


Thanks to the Nerds for a sample!

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